Inuvik Fire Department to host volunteer recruitment session

The Inuvik Fire Department is hosting a recruitment session on Wednesday night, at a time when the importance of volunteering in the community is being highlighted.

Session comes as mayor asks more people to get involved in town

Firefighters Raygan Solotki and Luke Morine at a training vehicle fire with the Inuvik Fire Deparment. The second annual recruitment session will take place Wednesday night. (Weronika Murray/Inuvik Fire Department)

The Inuvik Fire Department is hosting a recruitment session Wednesday night, at a time when the importance of volunteering in the community is being highlighted.

Over the weekend a large fire destroyed two homes and damaged two others, leaving 16 people displaced and sending one family to the hospital to get medical attention for burns and smoke inhalation.   

Mayor Natasha Kulikowski says it has been "heartwarming" to see how the community has come together through raising money and helping out those who have been impacted.

On Monday, she posted on social media calling on more people to get involved in the community. She said the pandemic provides an opportunity for people to help make changes they want to see.

"While we are stuck at home there are still a lot of ways you can help out … that's how anything happens in our town is through volunteer work."

Kulikowski pointed to the fire department recruitment training taking place Wednesday night, as one of the ways people can get involved. 

Mayor Natasha Kulikowski is encouraging people in town to get more involved with their local organizations. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC )

The session was planned well in advance of the fire over the weekend, but Fire Chief Cynthia Hammond says big events such as the fire can increase people's interest.

"Certainly we have an uptake in people that are interested in joining fire departments after when they realize that they could be contributing to the health and safety of the community."

She said seeing how the volunteer firefighters responded to the fire on Saturday morning, and at every fire they attend, gives her pride.

Right now the department has around 30 active firefighters, and Hammond said although that isn't a shortage, the department would like to have a little more help in case people are sick or go on vacation.

"We have a very active fire department, we average around 150 calls per year," Hammond said. 

They are also looking for support on the fire grounds she said, as well as volunteers to help out with their public education programs.

Inuvik Fire Chief Cynthia Hammond will be at the event on Wednesday night, where people can learn how to get involved, what training will be available, and the time commitment it will take. (Submitted by Cynthia Hammond)

Importance of volunteers

Weronika Murray, public education officer with the fire department, say this is the second year they are hosting the annual event to inform people about different opportunities and how they can get involved. 

Murray said even though they have enough firefighters right now, Inuvik has a very transient population, so they are constantly looking to recruit new people.

All of the firefighters who work there are volunteers, she said, with the exception of the fire chief. 

"We don't exist without volunteers, the fire chief on their own can not fight fires. So without the volunteers there is no fire department." 

This isn't unusual, with local fire departments across the country relying on volunteers.

A report from the National Fire Protection Association released two years ago found that 83 per cent of local firefighters across the country from 2014 to 2016 were volunteers.

Murray encourages anyone who is interested in getting involved to check out the event. Murray has been with the department for about seven years, and says the experience has been life-changing.

"It really changed my experience living in Inuvik because I've made really great friends and it has become a huge part of my life, much bigger than I expected."

The recruitment event takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the town's fire hall.

A firefighter accompanied by an instructor prepares to knock down a fire at the Inuvik Fire Department's live fire training facility. (Weronika Murray/Inuvik Fire Department)

With files from Wanda McLeod


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